The Pharisees and then the scribes are chasing after Jesus again, trying to trap him, make him look bad, flummox him. The Pharisees chase him about paying taxes and the scribes about resurrection. Jesus does not allow them to trip-him-up. He points out to both groups, in different ways, that they "are quite wrong" in their thinking and understanding of this kingdom he is opening for us, establishing for us.
There are always people in our lives who, for their own reasons, try and trip us up, or argue with us (some times just for the sake of arguing). Should we or should we not engage with them? Do we rise to their bate or swim on by, recognizing the nearly invisible line that could reel us in and take us off course? There is no set answer for each and every situation: we need to make judgment calls all the time. Helping us to make those decisions can be an understanding of what Jesus is attempting to get across to the Pharisees and the scribes today. Jesus is pointing us to a view of this world that sets us apart from the cultural norms and rules, regulations and laws that surround us. Notice, Jesus doesn't say to ignore these manmade rules regulations and norms (he says to still pay taxes). Our focus is to be on this kingdom that remains undefined in today's Gospel reading. We are to be focused on this living God, embodied within Jesus Christ for such a short period of time, but who still is with us. Jesus is pointing us to the concept of living in this world but not of this world: being a part of this world but never forgetting we are called to always take steps to assist in the creation of this kingdom of Jesus.
"Should we or should we not" is a pretty good mantra for the day, basing our decisions on this mindset of the kingdom.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Receiving the Word of God, 2007.